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Fox's 'Enlisted' premiere gets lift from delayed viewing

Fox's 'Enlisted' premiere gets lift from delayed viewing
Geoff Stults, center, stars wth Parker Young, left, and Chris Lowell on "Enlisted." (Jordin Althaus / Fox / MCT)

Early ratings for Fox's "Enlisted" seemed to foreshadow a dishonorable discharge for the new stateside military comedy.

The show averaged just 2.4 million viewers and a weak rating of 0.7 in the advertiser-desired 18-to-49 demographic, when it launched in an undesirable Friday night time slot.

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But the network may be feeling better about its new recruit after seeing the number of people who checked out the premiere after it aired, through digital video recording devices and video-on-demand services. In the three days after the original airing, the episode's rating increased 86% to a 1.3 in the 18-to-49 age group.

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That's still not an excellent number, but it hints that the series may not be as much of a sitting duck as it first appeared. "Enlisted" -- about a serviceman who is sent home from Afghanistan after socking a superior officer and assigned to lead a group of misfits at a Florida Army base -- has received some promising reviews (indicated by a Metascore of 64 out of 100 from the website Metacritic) and could build its audience through word-of-mouth.

Fox Entertainment Chairman Kevin Reilly, in remarks at the Television Critics Assn. conference in Pasadena, said he wished the premiere had earned a better number when it first aired, but that he planned to "hang with it" and wait for the DVR ratings.

Part of the problem is that the network introduced the show at 9:30 p.m. Friday (following the low-rated "Raising Hope," to boot), and didn't give it a preview airing on a more heavily watched evening. 

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When asked about that decision at the TCA conference, Reilly said there was no room for the series on a night like Tuesday, where new comedies "Dads" and "Brooklyn Nine-Nine" have full season orders, and the network doesn't want to confuse viewers by taking a series out of the rotation.

"I haven't given up on Friday night," he said. "We're going to continue to program Friday night with first-run shows. We've got to break the habit that we've told the audience forever, that it's not worth their time."

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